Building Surveying2018-02-19T23:45:01+00:00

BUILDING SURVEYING SERVICES

Quatrefoils are a specialist privately owned firm of Chartered Surveyors based in West London and operating primarily in North, South, and West London Areas offering an array of Architectural Design, Building Surveying and Project Management services across the property sector for both public and private sector clients.

Building Surveying Overview

Building Surveying is at the core of what we do. Our Chartered Building Surveyors have a wealth of experience and provide a wide array of Building Surveying Services. Whether you require a residential or commercial building condition survey, need a party wall surveyor, require a planned maintenance programme, or have building defect you need looking at, we’ve got you covered. Our team can offer sound advice and professional expertise in most areas relating to the condition, well-being and development of your property.

Party Wall Services

Party Wall services are at the heart of our business and one of our largest areas of specialism. Our team of Chartered Building Surveyors are also members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors & provide an excellent service for very competitive fees. 

The purpose of the Party Wall etc. Act is to facilitate building works, not to prevent it, however it can cause delays if not managed properly and will in most cases result in additional costs to building owner/s carrying out works that fall under the Party Wall etc. act. We would always advise building owners to factor these costs into their budget, and depending on the proposed development and proximity of the neighbouring properties, this can either be an inexpensive or quite costly process.

Our team set out to prevent, minimise and resolve disputes in an efficient manner and where possible reduce costs to the building owner by encouraging neighbours to resolve matters amicably, adopting a practical approach that ensures both parties are protected.

Party Wall Overview

Under the Party Wall etc. Act it is not a requirement that the Surveyor have any specialist qualifications. Anyone can therefore set themselves up as a Party Wall Surveyor with no formal training or understanding of construction.

At Quatrefoils we have a team of Chartered Building Surveyors regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and are members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors. Our experienced and trained professionals have decades of specialist knowledge and are generally designers and specifiers in their own right dealing with projects from small extensions to multi million pound school projects. As a result, we have acquired a wealth of building and construction knowledge which is necessary when dealing with party wall matters. Do not settle for anything less than a qualified professional.

For Building Owners we can prepare and serve the appropriate notices and deal with Party Wall Agreements where necessary. We prepare schedules of condition in photographic, written and video format to suit your requirements, all for a highly competitive fee and often far less than our unqualified competitors.

For Adjoining Owners we can act to protect both parties and our reasonable fees ensure that neighbourly relations are maintained. If you are looking for an unreasonably expensive company and are using the Act to try and frustrate your neighbours works then we are not the company for you.

It is important to remember that under the Party Wall Act the Surveyor is impartial and there is no Client – Consultant relationship. Once chosen therefore, no undue pressure to sway either way can be bought on the Surveyor. We are there to ensure the provisions of the Act are followed in the dispute resolution procedure and act as quasi Arbitrators. We can call upon other professionals such as Structural Engineers and often do on complex projects such as basement excavations.

For further information take a look at some of our informative Party Wall videos below.

Specification Writing and Preparation of Tender Documents

Quatrefoils Ltd have in excess of 50 years experience between their surveyors of writing detailed specifications and preparing tender documents.

The specification of Labour and materials is normally prepared in conjunction with the detailed design drawings which we also produce and sets out the precise works that the contractor is expected to undertake. This would be prepared in conjunction with the client and enables accurate competitive tenders to be obtained from a number of builders ensuring that they all price the same items. The tenders once received are then carefully analysed to ensure that there are no errors or undue loading of specific items to distort cash flow and appropriate recommendations made to the client.

We would always recommend the preparation of a detailed contract between the client and builder and our preference is for the JCT suite of contracts depending upon the precise type of work. The conditions of contract would set down the rights and duties of both parties, the mechanism for payment and the method of resolving any disputes in the unlikely event that they occur. This protect both parties in construction matters and should only be used when you have an experienced consultant who can explain the various terms and conditions there in.

On most of our contracts we would ensure the contractors are paid in arrears with an appropriate retention on each payment to ensure that in the unlikely event they ceased trading during the contract there would always be funding available to swiftly change to alternative contractor. Although this situation is extremely rare it can be made significantly easier by having a detailed contract in place and tends to reduce disputes.

Repair & Planned Maintenance / Condition Surveys

Quatrefoils are appointed as the principal School Surveyors for a number of Schools and assist with the ongoing repair and maintenance programmes for the Schools. For our Schools we carry out Annual Condition Surveys looking in detail at each building element and provide a comprehensive report on the overall condition, highlighting areas requiring repair/maintenance works. We then sit down with the Schools and prioritise works for the upcoming year as well as look at future planning.

Quatrefoils also work closely with managing agents and commercial property owners in preparing maintenance schedules to determine the condition of a property and identify the extent of repair and maintenance works required. We produce a comprehensive schedule with each item allocated an urgency rating and set into a planned maintenance programme, giving an indication on both time and cost in order to allow planned maintenance budgets to be set.

Using a qualified professional to assist you with your planned maintenance programme can save you money in the long term, by identifying potential defects in the early stages can enable it to be resolved before it becomes a greater issue. We can conduct periodic inspections to review the maintenance required and issue updated schedules accordingly.

Each planned maintenance schedule is produced in accordance with the client’s requirements and we can tailor the level of service to your requirements. If you would like to find out more about what we can offer please give us a call and speak with one of our friendly staff.

Insurance Projects

At Quatrefoils we have experience in dealing with various insurance projects and have worked closely with Loss Adjusters to assess the repairs required on a building following damage through fire, flood or other causes.

We can provide a detailed report identifying the extent of the damage along with budget cost to put the building back into its original position. We can provide drawings and a detailed specification for the reinstatement works and obtain competitive tenders from contractors and if required, manage the project from start to finish, acting as contractor administrator.

Our Surveyors have experience dealing with a range of projects from small floods to major fires. Whatever your need, we would be happy to help, so feel free to get in contact to discuss your case further.

Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM

At Quatrefoils we offer comprehensive advice and guidance to our clients relating to Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM 2015) which relate to all health and safety matters affecting construction projects. We understand the monumental importance of Health and Safety in Construction and exercise great care and attention for every project we work on and put on our Health and Safety thinking caps from the inception of any project.

We often adopt the role of Principal Designer under the CDM Regulations and ensure our clients are also informed of their duties under the regulations. Quatrefoils raise awareness and promote good practice in the industry relating to Health and Safety and provide support to all duty holders under the CDM Regulations.

Schedules of Condition

A Schedule of Condition comprises an inspection of a property at a particular point in time in order to record its current condition, normally carried out prior to building works commencing at an adjoining or adjacent property. The purpose of the schedule is to provide a documented accurate record of the property condition so in the event that damage is caused to that property, there is evidence at hand to prove or disprove that the damage was not pre-existent.

This will often enable parties to come to an agreement quickly without the need to escalate matters or take any legal action. It is common practise to carry out a Schedule of Condition with each Party Wall matter, and even when a Party Wall Award is not being produced but there is still a chance that the adjoining owner/s may still be affected by the works being undertaken, we often recommend that a Schedule of Condition be carried out as a measure of good practise as it could quickly resolve potential issues later down the line should things not go to plan.

At Quatrefoils we specialise in carrying out Schedules of Condition and offer both written and photographed schedules as well as high definition video schedules for increased accuracy, contact us for more information.

Dilapidations

Dilapidations are often a significant issue for both Landlords and Tenants alike. At Quatrefoils we have team of Chartered Building Surveyors who specialise in Dilapidations claims and offer professional services for both Landlords and Tenants for a variety of property types. We can prepare all types of schedules and provide these to your solicitor for formal service, along with carrying out negotiations on your behalf to ensure that claims are settled in a timely and cost effective manner. We utilise our knowledge and experience in all of our dilapidation cases and where construction / remedial works are being carried out, we offer professional services for site supervision to ensure quality of workmanship.

Dilapidations Overview

The term “dilapidations” refers to a state of disrepair in a property where there is a legal liability to “put or keep” the property in repair. This legal liability usual arises from express covenants contained within a lease, but may be a consequence of the law of tort or implied contract.

During the lease term, if the building has serious items of disrepair then an Interim Schedule of Dilapidations may be served. This only concentrates on major items likely to develop into significant problems during the remaining term of the lease, which if dealt with promptly, could prevent a more costly or extensive eventual final schedule.

Within the last three years or closer to the end of a lease it would be standard practice for a landlord to have a Chartered Surveyor prepare a Terminal Schedule. This would set out those works that require remedial attention in order to give the Landlord back the property in accordance with the terms of the lease.

It is often within the leaseholders interest to actually undertake the works prior to handover to avoid extensive additional costs such as loss of rent and if they are VAT registered, they may also be able to claim back the costs as a business expense.

If repairs are not completed by the outgoing leaseholder then a Final Schedule is prepared with associated costings and the claim then becomes one of financial compensation. Landlords should be aware that the amount of the final claim can be limited to less than the total cost of works in some cases.

Proudfoot v Hart restricted the standard of repair to that appropriate for a property of that nature rather than as new condition. Common law and The Landlord and Tenant Act 1927 S18.1 place a further cap on the level of dilapidations that can be claimed, setting this as the level of the damage to the landlord’s reversionary interest, often referred to as “diminution”. Quatrefoils can arrange advice with regards to the level of repair that is appropriate for each individual claim.

Any landlord will need to carefully consider what he or she actually intends to do with the property when making a claim. If the Landlord undertakes the works listed in the schedule this will provide strong evidence of the Landlord’s loss, however, as we referred to above, the works must be reasonable and the principles of diminution still apply the Landlord may not be able to recover the full cost.

If as a Landlord you are intending to redevelop the property this may impact significantly upon the level of a dilapidations that can be claimed and this may obviate any claim. If you wish to find out more about dilapidations or discuss your case further, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our friendly and helpful team.

Defect Diagnosis and Analysis

Building Surveyors are sometimes referred to as ‘Building Doctors’ which we think is quite a fitting description. A key specialism of an Building Surveyor is not only knowing how buildings are put together, but understanding the common defects associated with that building’s age and method of construction, as well as adopting a holistic view considering all possible external factors which may impact the building and it’s condition.

There are not many buildings that are free from any defects, especially with the significant number of older buildings in the United Kingdom. If left unattended these can often lead to further issues arising which is why it is essential to have a surveyor inspect the defect as soon as it has been identified.

We at Quatrefoils can look at a particular defect or defects and advise on; any further testing / surveys required, diagnose the likely cause of the defect and impact it has on your property, and offer possible solutions to remedy the issue with budget costings for the repair if required. We can also put you in touch with companies who can carry out the repair and assist with overseeing the remedial works through to completion.

Whilst the principals of this service are similar to those adopted in a Type 3 – Building Survey, this service targets a specific defect or defects already identified. We can offer a tailored approach to suit the needs of the client, please feel free to contact a member of our friendly team for more information.

Expert Witness

Expert Witness reports are often used to assist parties in resolving dispute matters which require the assistance from an unbiased independent expert who specialises in that particular field. The report must comply with the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).

At Quatrefoils we provide Expert Witness services relative to the Building Surveying sector and we can provide a comprehensive impartial report which complies with the Civil Procedure Rules in order to assist parties in reaching an agreement and settle their dispute without the need for a court hearing.

In the majority of cases the CPR provide for a single joint expert to acts impartially for both parties. This is usually a surveyor that both parties have agreed upon, however should the parties be unable to agree on a single joint expert, the court may directly appoint an expert witness.

In some situations the cases can be quite complex and in this event each party may appoint their own expert witness / witnesses. The appointed experts may have contrasting opinions, however their role is to assist the courts in reaching a decision based on their professional opinion and experience, considering all information provided for the case.

Expert witnesses may be summoned to appear in court to present their findings and may also be cross examined by the barristers or other representatives of the parties. Should you wish to discuss your case with one of our surveyors, please feel free to contact us for a no obligation discussion or quote.

Building Surveys

Also referred to as a Structural Survey or Level 3 Survey, a Building Survey is the most detailed report you can obtain when acquiring a property. It provides a comprehensive analysis and breakdown of the property construction and the condition of each component, highlighting items of concern and will advise if further investigations by a specialist are required, or even further matters for the attention of your solicitor. 

We take a journey through each element of the building’s structure and undertake a surface review of services and provide an analysis into the condition of each whilst identifying key defects and areas of concern.

We adopt a hands on approach and try to investigate as much as is feasible during our inspection. We take a holistic view of the building and piece together areas of concern to fully appraise any evident defects.

Our Building Surveys do not normally include a valuation, however this can be included if required.

What does a Level 3 Report (Building Survey) Cover?

  • External Inspection in detail of all visible external elements. We will focus on evidence of major structural movement / major external defects, review all roof coverings and rainwater goods, inspect drains and review external factors.
  • Internal Inspection which will review all visible areas, some light furniture will be moved and where possible floor coverings lifted if agreed with owner. We will focus on reviewing any movement / structural issues, test for damp, review roof space, inspect sub-floors if possible, check doors & windows, and carry out a visual inspection of services e.g. heating & electrics.
  • The report will also identify construction type of the building, look at local issues and surrounding factors, provide a ‘summary of repairs’ section and surveyors overall opinion.

Listed and Historic Buildings

Quatrefoils Ltd have a considerable amount of knowledge and expertise working with listed and historic buildings. We work with English Heritage and Conservation Officers, and understand the different approach required to work with buildings of such great importance. We understand traditional building techniques and get extremely passionate about the incredible things we encounter working with historic buildings. 

 We also have a great understanding of the planning process in relation to Conservation Areas and listed buildings, and work alongside consevation officers and the local planning departments to assist with any works planned to buildings of great importance / local interest. We have a team of Chartered Building Surveyors and consultant Structural Engineers who take great pleasure in assisting with the long term continued use of listed and historic buildings in an attempt to best preserve their outstanding features and character. 

Here is a list of some of the services we can offer for Listed & Historic Buildings:

  • Defect Analysis, Diagnosis and Repair
  • Planned Maintenance Survey and Programme
  • Condition Survey
  • Timber defects
  • Damp Issues
  • Fire Damage / Flooding Reinstatement
  • Listed Buildings Applications
  • Refurbishment / Extensions
  • Planning and Building Regulations Advice and Applications
  • Re-pointing / Brickwork Repairs

Definition – Listed Buildings

The Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 provides specific restrictions on alterations to listed buildings or structures of particular architectural or historic interest.

Buildings may be listed for one or more of the following reasons:-
Historic Interest (many buildings of a particular age fall into this category).
Architectural importance.

Historic Association (where a building is associated with important people or events).

Group Value (a building or structure that forms a part of a series of other building / structures and by association becomes listed).

The three types of listing are:

Grade I: Buildings of exceptional importance.
Grade II*: Buildings of more than special interest.
Grade II: Buildings of special interest.

Any alterations to a listed building, whether internal or external alterations will require Listed Building Consent. At Quatrefoils Ltd we can discuss your proposals and provide guidance on the best route forward with your listed building application and then submit the application on your behalf.

Definition – Conservation Area

Conservation areas have been defined as areas that are of:

“special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance”

Similar to listed buildings, the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Area) Act 1990 sets out restrictions on works to buildings or structures that fall within a Conservation Area. Conservation Areas can only be designated by the Local Authority, English Heritage, or by the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport.

At Quatrefoils we are used to working on buildings within conservation area, and are familiar with the restrictions that apply to some properties in conservation areas, such as the Article 4 direction, which enable planners to remove permitted development rights to properties in order to preserve a particular area.

The planning restrictions to conservation areas vary from Borough to Borough and the matter can become complex in cases. Quatrefoils can assist you with your project and guide your project through to obtaining conservation area consent.

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